BALTIMORE: Chris Perez didn’t talk his way into being selected for the All-Star Game. Maybe more importantly, he didn’t talk his way out of being picked.
The Indians closer was chosen on merit. After blowing a save on Opening Day, he has succeeded in his next 23 opportunities.
“I don’t think that Perez is in the All-Star Game because of what he said,” manager Manny Acta said Sunday. “He’s been pretty darn good.”
Perez is one of two Tribe players selected by a vote of the players for the July 10 Summer Classic at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Like Perez, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was picked for the second year in a row, compiling a .300 batting average with 11 home runs and 40 RBI.
“I feel very good for those two guys to be recognized,” Acta said. “That’s their second time in a row, and it’s a very good sign that they’re establishing themselves as All-Stars. You can make the All-Star Game once and never go back for the rest of your life.”
The Indians had two other legitimate candidates: setup man Vinnie Pestano and second baseman Jason Kipnis. But except for closers, relievers seldom make an All-Star roster, and Kipnis had three formidable players in front of him: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia.
“I’m a little sad that Jason was not chosen,” Acta said. “We told him that in our hearts he’s an All-Star. But there are so many great second baseman in the American League, it kind of hurt him.”
Perez was doubly honored because Sunday was his 27th birthday.
“Last year on my birthday, I was at my grandmother’s funeral,” he said. “So it’s a lot better this year, finding out about this.”
Despite posting a 2.67 earned-run average, .207 batting average against with 32 strikeouts and only seven walks in 30⅓ innings, Perez might be known this season more for his opinions than his pitching.
He castigated Northeast Ohio fans for not attending Indians games. More recently, he made negative remarks about people who pay to watch losing Browns teams and chastised Cavaliers fans for not letting go of their hatred of LeBron James.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t be saying as many things if I didn’t perform,” Perez said. “But I have been performing, so I’ve gotten a few things off my chest. I have a little chip on my shoulder.”
Perez also became embroiled in a minor dust-up when he struck out Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson to close out a win and passed his hand over his face indicating, “I don’t even see you.” Consequently, when Perez is announced before the All-Star Game, he is not expecting a standing ovation from the Kansas City crowd.
“I prefer to quote Reggie [Jackson]: They don’t boo nobodies,” Perez said. “It’s a beautiful park, and it will be a good time. Hopefully, there will be a lot of National League fans there, not just people from Kansas City. But I’m prepared to get booed.”
Perez’s frank nature hasn’t created extra stress.
“I have no pressure on me from the outside,” he said. “Getting sent down or being released is having pressure. Position players have to play every day, whether the team is up 10 or down 10. I get to come in when we’re winning.”
Cabrera started slowly but has been on a hot streak since mid-June. In his past 17 games, he is batting .329 with four doubles, six home runs and 15 RBI. Among the league leaders, Cabrera is 10th in on-base percentage (.379), 16th in OPS (.872) and second in batting average with runners on base (.374).
“Day in, day out, he’s been as solid as you could ask a guy to be,” Acta said. “Last year, he put himself out there and showed how good he could be. And this year, he’s proved he’s for real. He’s an All-Star.”
Last year was a breakout season for Cabrera, who hit 25 home runs and had 92 RBI. He said the key was advice he got in spring training from Orlando Cabrera, who told him to take a bigger swing when he got a pitch he could pull.
“I still have what he told me in my mind,” Cabrera said. “He helped me a lot.”
Cabrera said he didn’t follow the progress of the fan balloting, in which he finished fourth.
“No, I don’t look at that,” Cabrera said. “I didn’t think too much about that situation.”
Last year, Cabrera’s father kept reminding him of the weekly voting results.
“He tried to tell me this year again,” Cabrera said, “but I told him I didn’t want to hear it.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog atwww.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.